Do you have second ‘brain’ in your colon?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
colon

You’re reading these words because you have a brain in your head. But did you know you also have a brain in your butt? OK, not a literal brain — more of an autonomous matrix of millions of neurons that can, somehow, control intestinal muscle movements without any help from your central nervous system.

Scientists call this site of colon intelligence your enteric nervous system, and because it can function without instructions from the brain or spine, some scientists like to call it your “second brain.” How smart is this autonomous, intestinal brain? Scientists don’t know for sure yet. But according to a new study in mice, published May 29 in the journal JNeurosci, the answer might be pretty smart for an intestine.

Related article:  Here's why so many of us are spooked by artificial intelligence?

When the researchers stimulated isolated mouse colons with mild electric shocks, they saw “a novel pattern of rhythmic coordinated neuronal firing” that corresponded directly to muscle movements in nearby sections of the large intestine.

These rhythmic, synchronized blasts of neuron activity likely help to stimulate specific sections of intestinal muscles at a standard rate.

Because some scientists hypothesize the enteric nervous system actually evolved before the central nervous system, the neuron firing pattern in your colon might represent the earliest functioning brain in your body.

Read full, original post: You May Have a ‘Second Brain’ in Your Butt… And It’s Smarter Than You Think

Outbreak Featured
Infographic: Gene transfer mystery — How 'antifreeze' genes jumped from one species to another without sex

Infographic: Gene transfer mystery — How ‘antifreeze’ genes jumped from one species to another without sex

It isn’t surprising... that herrings and smelts, two groups of fish that commonly roam the northernmost reaches of the Atlantic ...
a bee covered in pollen x

Are GMOs and pesticides threatening bees?

First introduced in 1995, neonicotinoids ...
glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

* indicates required
Email Lists
glp menu logo outlined

Get news on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.